Clare County Library
Clare Places: Towns & Villages
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Places of Interest

  • BALLYVAUGHAN BAY in the south-eastern corner of Galway Bay is a popular boating area. Ballyvaughan itself is almost enclosed by rocky lagoon-type barriers of land and rock: the Rinn, to the west and a farther, more broken extension from Bishop’s Quarter to the east. There are also several small islands such as Black Island, Gall Island, Green Island and several nameless lumps of land and rock encompassed by this Ballyvaughan reef. The bay extends eastwards from Finvarra Point, past Scanlan’s Island, Muckinish Island, Muckinish Bay and the Pouldoody oyster beds before turning south through Poulnaclogh Bay, into Pouldoody Bay and finishing at Bell Harbour.

  • AILLWEE CAVE, one of the oldest in Ireland, is open to the public and is well worth a visit.

  • DRUMCREEHY CHURCH is called after "Druimcriche" as the original church here was situated on a hillside in the territory of Crioch Maille. This ancient medieval parish church is now surrounded by a large graveyard. The Blake-Forster Monument of 1912 and the small mausoleum of Henry Comerford can be seen here. It is also the burial ground of the Comyn family, where Peter Comyn was buried in 1830.

  • BISHOPS QUARTER once contained a religious house. The most prominent feature of the landscape in this area is an attractive little beach backing onto some sandhills and a sandy pool almost totally enclosed by sand to the rear of the hills. Seaweed is still harvested here and left to dry out of the tide’s reach until collected. The beach is a good place at which to bathe or collect sea shells. Access is by a surfaced road and there is a car park close to the shore.

  • LOUGHRASK, the pond of the fight, lies between Drumcreehy church and Ballyvaughan. Before meeting his cousin’s forces in combat Donogh O’Brien and his army arrived at Loughrask to discover a hideous hag employed in washing the blood off a pile of limbs and carcasses of dead men. She told Donogh this was a symbol of his and his follower’s deaths. He ignored this omen only to perish with most of his men in the ensuing Battle of Corcomroe in 1317. This battle decided the chieftaincy of Thomond and led to the annihilation of de Clare and the expulsion of the English from the county.

  • CORKSCREW HILL, the steep and winding zig-zag roadway up the hill between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna, is aptly named. This terraced climb was designed as a famine relief scheme and has been included in many cycle and motor competitions.

  • GREGAN’S CASTLE-HOTEL generally refers to the nineteenth century L-shaped house at the foot of the Corkscrew. Once the property of the Martyn family, it now operates as a hotel.

  • THE ORIGINAL GREGAN’S CASTLE, an L-shaped tower house somewhat similar in outer design to that at Gleninagh, still stands among the trees, opposite and across the road, from its more modern namesake. It was the former residence of the chief of the O’Loghlens and his territory was listed in 1580 as the Barony of Gragans (probably meaning mountain bog) rather than Burren. The Cromwellians dispossessed Owney More O’Loghlen in 1654 and under the Act of Settlement in 1677 George Martyn was confirmed as the new owner. Turlough O’Loghlen married Alice Martyn and this may have led the Martyn family, at a later date, to build their nearby seventeenth-century strong house as the O’Loghlens may have continued to live in the older tower house. This low squat tower is almost lost within the trees. The ground floor may have been a store or stable and it contains a long straight staircase rather than the more familiar spiral type.

  • THE VALLEY in which Ballyvaughan is situated contains many ring forts.

  • CAHERMORE RING FORT, sometimes Cathair Mhor, the big fort, still guards the pass down to the Ballyvaughan valley. The walls are up to nine feet thick and nine feet high and are built of two faces of large well-fitted blocks. The lintelled doorway and the remains of the interior buildings appear to be medieval in origin.

  • BALLYALLABAN RING FORT is an earth fort, simply because earth was the nearest available building material. This type of building is probably the most common type of ancient monument in the country. The rampart was built up from the fosse or moat and may have had a palisade or fence of pointed wooden stakes to protect the inhabitants from any intruders who managed to cross the generally flooded fosse. It is marked as "An Rath" in the Burren maps.

  • BALLYALLABAN HOUSE is an early nineteenth century house built to replace a nearby but long vanished seventeenth-century house. It is also the possible site of an early monastic church. A gymkhana is held in the grounds each year by the people of the district.